New York City-based Bohemian Trio played a short program of five contemporary pieces — three of which were composed by band member Yosvany Terry — that easily could have been part of a concert in Spoleto Festival’s chamber music series.
The trio likes to describe itself as musically eclectic, combining classical, jazz, Afro-Cuban and folk styles. And it’s true that strains of eastern modal melodies emerge, along with dance rhythms and Latin inflections. But this was music firmly rooted in the classical tradition. And it demanded technical proficiency, a disciplined ear and the attention to nuance that comes with regular small-ensemble playing.
These fellas — Terry on saxophones and percussion, Orlando Alonso on piano and Yves Dharamraj on cello — delivered all that in a fascinating set of innovative chamber pieces that warmed a nearly full house at the Simons Center Recital Hall on a very rainy afternoon.
Where the jazz came in was in improvisatory sections, handled deftly by the players, and in a certain swing that imbued in these lively, intentional works.
Alonso and Terry, Cuban-born and trained, and the French-American Dharamraj are paving a new course, one that wholly relies on their refined abilities while embracing that dangerous, edgy quality one finds in complex jazz and lots of contemporary classical music.
The first tune was “Bohemia” by Terry, an energetic, run-filled romp that made evident the players technical know-how and expressive musicality. Then they played two works (one fast, one slow) by Argentine composer Pedro Giraudo, which were enriched with tango-esque flavors.
A short piece for solo piano by Andre Previn called “Invisible Drummer” followed. Alonso had fun with it, banging away at its percussive, repetitive and very catchy musical patterns.
The trio presented Terry’s “Punto Cubano de Domingo” next, which began with Terry presenting the Afro-Cuban tradition of improvised singing, accompanied by percussion. Finally, the trio played Terry’s “Okonkoro,” named for the smallest of the Yoruba drums, which made its way into Latin-Caribbean music from Africa.
Terry played not the okonkoro drum but a shekere, or large dried gourd with beads woven around it, while Alonso and Dharamraj dug into their respective instruments.
Bohemian Trio plays two sets on both Sunday and Monday. If you’re looking for an hour of engaging new music, played expertly by talented and innovative musicians with an ear open to the world, then go.